From Podcast Movement 2023

Image of a podcast cover photo featuring Franklin Taggart, a white male in front of a microphone wearing light green colored glasses. The title of the Virtual Coffee Break episode is From Podcast Movement 2023
When Podcast Movement announced that their annual conference was going to be held in Denver this year, I got excited. I've wanted to attend this conference ever since it started, but the timing and finances never seemed to line up. This year, thanks to the generosity of Buzzsprout and the close proximity of the venue, I was able to attend. Here are some of my highlights. 

Podcasting is Still Growing

And it appears to be growing even more rapidly with YouTube's new commitment to podcast support and promotion. It's not just YouTube. Spotify introduced video podcasts into its features last year, and new networks were represented at every level at the conference. The overall trend is that podcasting continues to expand in every direction.

People Are Hungry for Podcast Curation

As more podcasts are becoming available, people are looking for reliable sources of curation for the podcasts they listen to. Networks are one of the prominent sources people are turning to for this kind of service. This need for curation is also putting some pressure on podcast hosting platforms to improve the quality of their search functionality and discovery features. I was blown away by the number of new networks I saw at the conference and the variety of niches and audiences they represented.

Video is Exploding

As I mentioned, YouTube and Spotify have created opportunities for podcast producers to include video in their show offerings. I know the video option has been available and popular with podcasters for years, but the increased support is causing some important shifts in the podcasting industry. YouTube has risen into the second slot from the top as the most popular place to watch or listen to podcasts. Spotify has also gained more podcast audiences as it increases access to its video-based podcast services. Several speakers and panels were dedicated to integrating video into the podcasting mix.

Monetization Options Are Increasing(In Some Ways)

Making money from podcasting is taking on some new shapes and appearances. The standard list of options like sponsorships, paid subscriptions, advertising, and product promotion is still on top, but there are new possible income streams coming forward for podcasters, especially those who are growing large and engaged audiences. Larger broadcast and production companies like Paramount, Disney, and iHeart Media are signing successful podcasts to their networks and offering unheard-of sponsorship deals as they diversify their markets. 

New fan funding services similar to Patreon are also starting to spring up. Patreon has been a popular way for podcast producers to gain direct support from fans, but there are some fast-moving competitors whose presence at the conference was notable. YouTube and Spotify weren't alone in offering hosts direct support portals for fans to pay for support and premium access. 

The only disappointing monetization news is the continued shunning of shows with long track records but smaller audiences. Many advertisers are raising their minimum audience requirements to a point that excludes all but the most popular podcasts. I'm hopeful that this will change, but I think it will take an organized strategic effort on the part of certain agencies to create a package that will work for all involved. I heard a few Braindate discussions on this topic that I'll be excited to watch as they unfold.

My Conference Experience

I don't attend many conferences, especially those of this size and scope. I think the last conference I attended was a magician gathering with my son in Columbus, Ohio, in 2020, and before that, I honestly can't remember. I've been to a few smaller locally focused events, but very few that are national and international in scale. I felt like Rip Van Winkle (something I've been feeling a lot lately) waking up from a 20-year nap to find a foreign landscape and wandering around like an alien. Here are some thoughts about the conference itself.

First, the Gaylord Rockies Hotel and Resort is even bigger than it appears from the airport toll road. I know they started with the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, where I've gotten lost more than once, but this facility is even more vast - and expensive. But isn't everything? Parking in the event lot is $30 per day, and the food I saw was comparable in price to the airport restaurants - 20-30% higher than I'd expect to pay in town. That said, coffee and beverages were available at the event, and the catering team kept the urns full the whole time. I will say the staff were all amazing, both for the hotel and the event. Food seemed to be plentiful as I walked through the vendor area, so I didn't end up paying for any food outside of the conference. Buzzsprout also had some food and entertainment planned for us, and Paramount sprang for breakfast for the whole event on Tuesday morning.

The hotel's Expo Hall is huge, with four smaller halls on either end. In the main hall itself, there were eight stages with sound and seating. All the vendors were set up there, and there were several areas dedicated to networking and relaxing.  There was also a group of tables designated for Braindates - small discussion groups and ad hoc meeting spaces participants could use to schedule face-to-face conversations. The Braindates I attended were by far my favorite parts of the experience. I enjoyed the discussions and the people I met in that setting. The few speaker sessions I heard were excellent. I would recommend attending the conference to anyone who is involved in podcasting at any level. There is something there for everyone connected to podcasting.

My only difficulty was that I found it hard to hear in the Expo Hall. I also experienced an acute and rapidly overwhelming case of sensory overload. I found it hard to find quiet spaces there. I also tired of asking the quieter voices to repeat themselves so I could watch their lips move in hopes of actually hearing what they had to say. Other than these minor challenges, I had a wonderful and commendable conference experience.

It's Still a Good Time to Start Podcasting

Times have changed since I did my first show back in 2010. It's easier than ever to get started in podcasting. I was blown away by all the available options now, from equipment to production services to hosting. The entry bar is lower than ever, and there is still much room for shows serving well-defined audiences. I want to thank Buzzsprout for sending me to Podcast Movement 2023, and I'll hope to attend another conference soon.

Find out more:

If you're just starting podcasting, I recommend checking out Buzzsprout. They are a small company with a big heart and do everything they can to nurture and support podcasters. They have packages starting at free, so you have nothing holding you back. All you need is a good idea and a decent microphone, and you're ready to start.

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I help people set up podcasts with a commitment to maximizing reach and keeping costs down. It starts with a free microphone placement session that you can schedule here: FREE Microphone Placement Session

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